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Little lands in Pocatello ahead of COVID-19 anniversary in Idaho

Coronavirus

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Governor Brad Little chats with Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director Maggie Mann before taking a tour of the Sports and Orthopedic Medicine Clinic at Idaho State University on March 11, 2021. Little’s visit to the ISU clinic was his second stop of the day following a morning visit to Twin Falls. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

POCATELLO — It has now been one full year since the first positive Coronavirus case was confirmed in Twin Falls.

Governor Brad Little was in Pocatello Thursday, collecting first-hand reports from medical providers on the ground and offering updates on the state’s response to the pandemic.

“COVID years are kinda like dog years, it feels like it’s been seven years instead of one,” he said, standing in the lobby of the Sports and Orthopedic Medical Center on the Idaho State University campus. “Boy, we’ve come a long ways.”

Little’s visit was part of the governor’s continued tour of facilities statewide. The choice to appear at the Portneuf Medical Center-run facility on the ISU campus was two-pronged, his press secretary Marissa Morrison told EastIdahoNews.com. During his own rounds, Little has targeted active vaccination clinics, and he visited PMC just over a month ago.

RELATED: Gov. Brad Little visits Portneuf Medical Center, offers encouragement and discusses COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The governor addressed the state’s response, citing a Wall Street Journal story that ranked Idaho’s financial resilience to the pandemic as the top in the nation. He admitted that if he could go back, there were things he would have changed.

While lauding the efforts of medical personnel, Little spoke to the limited knowledge Idaho, the nation and the world had at this time last year.

“If we would’ve known about droplet bread versus aerosol spread, if we would’ve known early on what the value of face coverings were, we could’ve done some things different,” he said. “What they do in hospitals today is vastly different than what we were doing 11 months ago.”

Governor Brad Little chats with representatives from the ISU Sports and Orthopedic Medicine Clinic

Governor Brad Little chats with representatives of the ISU Sports and Orthopedic Medicine Clinic during a visit to the facility on March 11, 2021. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

As for this particular health district, Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director Maggie Mann said that the response has been about learning and adapting. While she was in no rush to pat herself or SIPH on the back for its work, she thanked the work of the community and SIPH’s partners for their part.

“They all stepped up to the plate and played a role in the response,” she said.

Moving forward, Little explained that the focus of the state will be to embrace the advancements it made to the health system — most notably to the working of the state’s telehealth capabilities.

“A win-win-win” is how he described the state’s ability to provide telehealth services on an exponentially increased scale.

“There’s a few good things that came out of the pandemic, and the advancement in Telehealth was one of them,” he said. “That connection via technology is how we’re going to continue to have affordable, accessible health for a long time.”

Idaho continues to be a leader in action as the nation moves toward the end of the COVID pandemic, and Little has begun to swing his focus to vaccination. The state is preparing to launch a campaign targeting those Idahoans who are not willing to receive the vaccination.

“As long as people continue to do the right thing,” Little said, tugging at the mask he was wearing around his neck, “and we get more people vaccinated, our trajectory is going to be nothing but better.

Mann agreed.

“Our big concern is just complacency. We know everybody is tired, we know everybody is weary of this whole situation,” she said. “We just need to hang in there a bit longer.”

Vaccination room at the ISU Sports and Orthopedic Medicine Clinic

A vacant vaccination room at the ISU Sports and Orthopedic Medicine Clinic on March 11, 2021. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com
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